Doctor Who: Inner Spaces

If you haven’t seen Into the Dalek, then, to misquote the Spice Girls, stop right now, thank you very much. This blog post is about what it means to have a human touch.

Some good hard SF concepts and special effects in Into The Dalek, in addition to some nice insights into Clara’s world and how it works with The Doctor plus the Doctor and Clara continue their conversation about who The Doctor is, and how Clara sees herself…as predicted.  However, all that is not what I’m going to write about.

I was going to say it started In Let’s Kill Hitler with the  Teselecta – miniaturised people inside a shape shifting robot  – and then I was going to say it started with The Girl in the Fireplace with the disguised clockwork robots at Versailles, or Silence in the Library with Donna trapped inside a computer with fake kids, but I’m wrong. Doctor Who has always explored what it means to be who we are – even from the first episode.

Here's looking inside you, kid.

Here’s looking inside you, kid.

More recently though, the theme Steven Moffat  has overtly pursued with Clara has been interiors, inner worlds and insides. This is both literal and metaphorical. She is the Impossible Girl who jumped inside The Doctor’s timeline; who was put inside a Dalek, and locked deep inside a prison planet; who wandered around the innermost bits of the TARDIS, not once, but twice; and most recently was miniaturised and injected into a Dalek. Again, Clara was present when the Doctor battled the Cyber Controller inside his own mind.

As you do.

Metaphorically speaking, one can posit Clara’s goodness, ‘caring’ and common sense insights are the antibodies to The Doctor’s mostly repressed hate. We’ve been exposed to it before with the Dream Lord, which was an exterior representation of an interior infection with psychological symptoms. But Rusty the Good Dalek sees it too from his unique perspective.

It does kinda go back to my previous thoughts on identity and what people are for and mean to each other.

But there are other instances of the importance of the interior:

  • The robots value us for utilitarian purposes, literally for what is inside us – optic nerves and spleens etc. The robots too, hide in plain sight, a space ship inside a restaurant, which is really a trap + larder. There is thus, not one inside, but layers.
  • The robots in the larder, Rusty, even the Doctor in the cupboard – present secrets and memories we lock away inside us. The same may go for this new teacher Danny Pink – he, like The Doctor has (mostly) concealed trauma.
  • Madame Vastra directly, but The Doctor too, are meditations on public and private faces and who we let see us as we really are.

All these things are well and good, and do not often bog down the plot or story – action does happen, even while The Doctor and everyone else argue over what it means to be Dalek. But I do want at some point, some answers or indications about what it may mean.

Perhaps memories are significant. In the first episode The Doctor believes his face is a reminder, and Clara is remembering Matt Smith’s Doctor so much that she can’t see Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. In the very next episode Clara literally fires off Dalek (awesome old-fashioned plastic pipe prop) neurones to reboot Rusty’s memory, even as The Doctor uses his own memories to enable Rusty to see with a new perspective.

Meanwhile, the new story arc continues.

Is this new Missy character the woman who gave Clara The Doctor’s number? Is Missy dead? Or does she somehow relate to Clara’s statement that ‘we are all dead’ to The Doctor? Is Missy recruiting an army of those who died for, or somehow at the behest of, The Doctor, (because that would be a big army)?

Missy feels completely new, but also familiar – like a River Song/Madame Kovarian hybrid – flirty, over-informed, dangerous and trapped somewhere with a plan. Is this deliberate writing, or an unconscious Moffat trope or am I reading too much into a couple of scenes?

In a return to earlier comments, this Heaven/Paradise, feels like another interior wherein yet another character – Missy – dwells, a bit like The Library or Appalappachia. It feels disturbing because it seems ideal.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

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A Deeper Breath – more on Doctor Who

The first viewing is raw, impressions are quick, and it’s about trying to get the vibe of it, The Castle style. Later, on reflection, and upon a brief survey of what other people think (everything from deep love to resentment at this new guy and the title sequence), it’s time for further analysis of Deep Breath.

Writers are taught, or learn, to show, don’t tell. On and on. And in Deep Breath, I felt there was much telling. There were telling conversations, grand soliloquies and heart breaking dialogue. The action serves to deliver a mystery to solve (as each must), but also reflects aspects of these conversations (as I discussed in the previous post regarding identity and change). But still, there was an awful lot of telling scattered throughout the robots, the dinosaur and restaurant that was a space ship (sadly not like the Bistromath).

Perhaps so much talking made it feel like melodrama. But in its defence, within the story regeneration is a big deal, and from outside of the plot, changing the main character of a very successful long running TV show is also a big deal. Over-emotional excitement, fear, and a bit of cheesy stuff seems par for the course, compared with similar episodes.

However, there was more talking about who and what the Doctor should be in this episode than in previous regeneration episodes. David Tennant’s doctor wondered who he was, briefly, in The Christmas Invasion, and then revealed who he was through his interactions with the aliens, the Prime Minister, and the Doubting Rose. It was in this sense, of more showing and less telling that he discovered he could talk a lot, find meaning in the Lion King, fight with a sword and not give second chances, all in his jim jams. All his actions and then his choice of outfit completed him…and that’s it – he won Rose’s approval and ours.

In the 11th Hour, Matt Smith’s Doctor had little time for introspection, except to briefly wonder if he was a girl. His Doctor was shaped around what Amelia had to feed him and the mystery she presented. Later, he is shaped by Amy, the girl who lies about her identity and pretends to be other people for entertainment, and all this happens before he realises what he looks like. In addition, he takes the clothes of other people. More than previous Doctor’s he is influenced by others – especially Amelia/Amy. In her presence, he is an awkward son-in-law with the look of a rakish nephew, big brother, friend, replacement family, guardian, and sometimes something-almost more-ish if it wasn’t for Rory. With Amy and Rory gone it was their loss that then shaped him; his grief and latent anger driving him headlong into Clara and the new family that is the Paternoster Gang.

Which brings me to Clara.

With Clara I’m not sure the viewers are completely seeing The Doctor from her point of view – as we did with Rose. Which is funny if you think about the word – Clara – Clarity – seeing clearly. I think their relationship is, if anything, both more straightforward and more hidden than The Doctor’s with Amy or Rose or Martha. Straightforward because the episode in a very didactic manner tells (again not showed) us it is not romantic, and hidden because Clara feels like she is still working out who she is. Or maybe we are working out which Clara she could be. This also means there is a certain distance or reserve. Are we really on her side, if she is doubtful of The Doctor again? She may not really see The Doctor, but are we or The Doctor really seeing her clearly?

Furthermore, Clara doesn’t show The Doctor who he is, like Amelia does, but tells him directly. Maybe this is somehow meant to be a comment on her role as a teacher? But the best teachers, in my mind, get students to find the answers. Anyway, in the ship Clara says out loud he is there to rescue her, and later, contradicts his own emerging knowledge of himself – see below:


No hugging - I'm Scottish.

No hugging – I’m Scottish.

Again, the writing  is reflexive of the medium. Thus, as for being someone with a unique perspective on regenerations, Clara is more like the viewer than ever before. She has knowledge of his past selves, been inside his head, but as with many viewers, remains suspicious and doubtful of the new Doctor’s self. Like viewers, she is both prepared to abandon him, but willing to be convinced too. The Doctor needing Clara is thus, directly analogous to a program needing viewers, and in fact for writers and their need for readers. Yet, it also says something about the need for acceptance in relationships of all kinds.

The Clara/Doctor relationship works both ways. The loss of the Ponds means The Doctor – for all that he let Clara in (literally inside his timeline) – pushes Clara away (eg excluding her with talks with the Tasha Lem of the Papal Mainframe). However, The Doctor is always the one running back to Clara – every Wednesday off they go.  He is both distant and protective of her and I think this will change. Perhaps Clara will become distant, or, perhaps she will become more, not exactly maternal, but represent his softer side while I hope she learns to toughen the hell up and stop looking so scared.  Perhaps she will get to be the protective one, as Deep Breath indicates, as the Doctor gets to demonstrate more of his analytical Malcolm Tucker side.

This is where the emotional negotiations will take place and drive the tension between them or resolve who they are to each other. And part of this maybe bound up in why <insert whatever> wants them together. Thus, identity, emotions, trust, and what these two are to each other and say to each other maybe more important to the overall arc of this season than previous Doctor/companion situations.

So, for all of his more thorny attributes, this Doctor may get more time than ever to talk about who he is and what he feels. That would be a cool contrast to previous incarnations and a better focus than just oooo Old Doctor.

In the end it kinda comes back to the choice to hire Peter Capaldi. Since he has played characters in both Who and Torchwood, I wonder if the series has made a rod for its back regarding finding an explanation for his regeneration. Or whether it provides an opportunity to explore aspects of The Doctor’s physiology and personality that are rarely discussed. Hiring Capaldi means viewers must suspend disbelief to forget we’ve seen him before. Alternatively, our awareness must be heightened so hiring this particular (very fine actor) must be made meaningful. I can only hope the meaning drawn from his regeneration is worth the weight/wait of (possibly) an entire series.

But it’s not like aspects of regeneration haven’t been talked about before. It was a seemingly throwaway line but Melody Pond ‘concentrating on a dress size’ as she becomes River Song indicates the possible influence of conscious thought on regeneration, and I suppose we can also add subconscious influences too. Earlier, when we met the Tardis, The Doctor spoke of fellow Time Lords – and mentioned their choice of gender when regenerating. So all of this feeds into whether This Doctor had a choice to become what we see before us, or whether it was driven by an undercurrent of something and what this means.

So we wonder, what was the writing foreshadowing? There is the Papal Mainframe, The Wire, The Library where River Song is stored, and the episode where people are rewritten like software while others were uploaded to the net. Now, we have the promise of a new exploration of the nexus between technology, religion and identity  – this time with the purported paradise of the robots. And again we have The Doctor being so sure of something, only to have the final scene look like he is absolutely wrong.

To sum up. I suspect identity, trust and how relationships of all kinds can shape and inform who individuals become, will remain themes for a while yet. Most especially since the next episode is Into the Dalek and there is no better SF metaphor for the notion of a public mask (of cold efficiency) versus deep inner turmoil and self loathing than a Dalek.

Of course I could be wrong about everything.

I mean it’s only a kids family TV show, right?

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Doctor Who: Deep Breath of Comedy, Confusion and Action

The first episode after a regeneration sets the tone, but is also a one-off. The Doctor gets the opportunity to be vulnerable in ways he is mostly not the rest of the time.  Much of the rest of the cast can be left to drive the narrative given his erratic behaviour, mental confusion and often unconsciousness. This was especially apparent in David Tennant’s regeneration  episode. The difference between The Christmas Invasion and Deep Breath was that The Doctor was left with Rose, Jackie Tyler and Mickey to sort stuff out – and that was ok, because we knew them.

In the absence of a full history for Clara and her air of ‘unknowability’, The Doctor and Clara end up with the utterly delightful Paternoster Gang. Strax, as usual, provides the laughs in place of Mickey and Jackie.  Strax and Clara are comedy gold, and everything they say to each other is also revealing of the themes of the episode and the conflict Clara feels. In addition, not only do Vastra and Jenny offer the caring role and secure home in place of Jackie and her flat, but provide the passion and the action. Their fight scene was pretty cool.


Madame Vastra being artistic.

Madame Vastra being artistic.

What was interesting for Clara’s character was that she was given the range to be several levels of emotional, clever and defensive. It’s all very well to meet the Doctor’s former selves and help them, but it’s a different experience to witness a regeneration – to see one person die and that person replaced by someone else. There is a cognitive dissonance: the same person is a different man, the different man is the same as he always was. It is upsetting. It was upsetting for Rose. It is upsetting for Clara. And now he is Scottish and they ended up in Glasgow and it is upsetting for The Doctor. All this gave Peter Capaldi the opportunity to play off Jenna Coleman’s turmoil and to let The Doctor need a companion’s approval in a new way.

I particularly liked the moments when Clara’s previous experience as a teacher informed her behaviour with the robot command node. We need more of that kind of writing in order to better appreciate her motivations and where she has come from. Clara, unlike any of the other companions in New Who, is a tabula rasa, magnified all the more because her multiple selves in The Doctor’s timeline. She is indeed Impossible, but hitherto, a bit of an Every Girl, barring The Dalek Asylum and The Snowmen, who were versions of Clara. Now Clara is becoming somebody and she must redefine her role in The Doctor’s life.

The episode nicely references the past (Madam Pompadour and Amy among other shoutouts) and sets up future investigations regarding Clara. As much as Clara has always been in The Doctor’s world, the mystery of how it happened remains to be investigated and there is a new thing: this supposed robot paradise that looks like Appalappachia from The Girl Who Waited.

If the episode seemed a little uneven, I think, in part, it is because of the nature of an episode like this. It was a Sherlockian/HP Lovecraft murder investigation, with battles against robots set amongst a meditation on the meaning and importance of identity and trust and friendship run through at a hectic rate.

Vastra, Jenny, the dinosaur, the command node and The Doctor and Clara’s response to them, each provide opportunities for Steven Moffat to explore: What makes us who we are? How is identity built and if it is always in progress how far can we change and still be who we think we are? Who can we rely on when we are lost and alone? Are our closest friends, the people we love, mirrors of ourselves – with similar traits and personalities – or do we think we see in them only what we hide from ourselves? Why continue, what is our purpose? How often do we pretend to be what we want others to see? What lines can we cross and remain who we are?

So I liked the episode, and even if some don’t, the questions it posed, or reposed, about who we think we are and what we do about it, are challenging ones for writers.


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The Secret Museum – epiphany and review

I attended a book talk-launch type thing the other evening. It was for Molly Oldfield’s The Secret Museum. It was a good talk. Oldfield was erudite – full of interesting and amusing anecdotes about meeting international museum curators and seeing first hand all the things they can’t display.  To her credit, she coped well with woolly headed half question-half statements from the audience, signed books and endured selfie-taking with British bonhomie and composure.

The Secret Museum

The Secret Museum

It is a book you’ll probably want to dip into and browse, rather than read cover to cover. I must admit to knowing nothing about either the book, or author when I accepted an invitation to attend. If anything, I was expecting a novel, but got something better: a resource for fiction.

Yep. I too bothered a polite English author for  a signature.

Yep. I too bothered a polite English author for a signature.

So that’s the book. It’s a little like a fun hard-back encyclopaedia. In fact is an engaging encyclopaedia of Oldfield’s experiences of seeing the exquisitely odd, incredibly rare, and immensely valuable.

The cover is beautiful, and inside is full of whimsical illustrations, sometimes in place of a photo because some items are too delicate, too big or too precious to photograph, which is a pity. I do want pictures of bejewelled ancient stuff, not just sketches, no matter how good.

If you followed my Twitter feed of the event, you would’ve noted it got me thinking. Even before the author arrived. To wit, I was tired, unreasonably open to feelings, and prepared to chuck, pretty much everything, in.

Listening to the academics chat as we waited for the author, what came over me was their complete lack of a sense of privilege. I was in their world at this event; as they spoke, while I, once again, felt like I had snuck into a university and was there contrary to the evidence of my invitation. This was not these perfectly normal lecturers making me feel this, by the way. These folk were not really aware of me at all, and in fact, that has felt like the case over the duration of my studies, even if it has sometimes been untrue.

So there I am, egg sandwich in hand, realising this personal sense of unworthiness that pervades everything stems from two things that I carry over from my childhood.

An awareness of poverty. My childhood was not exactly an urban Harp in the South poor, but the rural, hard-working ‘battlers’ kind of many decades later. It was enough that I knew things like braces for my teeth and school holidays at places that were not my relatives houses were off the table. That’s not to say I didn’t have an engaging and varied childhood. There were animals, vast landscapes, friends and family.

The worst bit was being made to feel it. To feel embarrassment for a situation I could neither explain nor change – there is no empowerment in being poor as a child. That refrain so many kids hear now – I didn’t know I could do anything I wanted. To the contrary, every day experiences taught me that life was a series of barriers so that our family getting a colour TV seemed almost as impossible as me going to the moon.

(Yes I know: #firstworldproblem. But my neighbours and friends at school, they had colour TVs and Betamax. It’s all about context. Plus check out the Social Determinants of Health Alliance for why this stuff is important.)

What made it worse was not being able to read. It was an exclusion so total I stared out school windows, watching seagulls wheel above the playground as they wintered inland. It was twin to being poor. I was barred again from those who regaled me of their summers spent by their family’s in-ground pools reading I don’t know, Anne of Green Gables or some such. (The height of sophistication at the time – I mean pools, not the book).

I caught up. I learned to read and started writing stories. I realised poor is a continuum through reading. But the feelings – of being unworthy, of being an outsider, of not belonging and of being unsuccessful, have remained. This was heightened when Oldfield’s resume was revealed. Her achievements: degree in history, author, columnist and question writer for QI. We are so different. Or is she the type of person I could be if I believed or had the magical resources that seem to make life easier for some people? (I say this without any knowledge of Oldfield’s background beyond her talk. It could have been wall to wall tragedy for all I know.)

Just like Molly Oldfield reveals the behind the scenes of museums with her book, we are all cabinets of curiosities inside aren’t we?

We hide so much, from ourselves and others and what we hide are both treasures and disturbing curios. In the Museum or Cabinet of my childhood, I would  find the first book I read, second-hand and home-made school uniforms, and the cheese and gherkin sandwiches my best friend used to steal, borrow, take.

Sad me. Reasonable hair day though.

Sad me. Reasonable hair day though.

That little girl who was me – I’m not her. Yet I’ve hauled the weight of her problems around so long I may as well be that sad and bullied little kid.

I’m perverse like that. Always attempting or wanting to do things that I’m told I shouldn’t, or can’t: like holding on the past, like a degree, like writing, like reading.

So I believe I’m unworthy of being successful regarding doing the things, as a contrarian, I’m somewhat compelled to attempt. Furthermore, not quite succeeding as I want to means I feel like I’ve sabotaged myself or correct in my assessment of being unworthy.

Yeah, sounds like me. Stupid feedback loops.

The other night though, listening to all the talk of the past and of cabinets of curiosities from distant places, brought me to a decision. Amid the irritability and slight headache of an epiphany and/or sinusitis, I decided to put the museum of my childhood behind me. It’s safe, I can still visit, but I don’t need to carry these feelings of being unworthy, of being undeserving, any more.

The imp of my perversity asks: do I?


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Fellowship of the Orb: Review of Guardians of the Galaxy

If you like Marvel films you’ll like Guardians of the Galaxy. You may like it even more if you don’t like everything Marvel has done. I liked it. It was smart and sweet and nostalgic, with some great performances from the cast, plus with added bonus surprise cameos and shout outs for long-term comic readers. It was like ET in reverse. Mostly though, as others have mentioned, it was funny. But, like I say, if you like these kind of films you may have all ready seen it and if you haven’t you will and you probably won’t see it on my say so anyway, cos who the hell am I? Right?

So why write this? This is about what it made me think and feel. We like these kind of films to be a bit of escapist dramatic comedic nonsense (in a very serious big business Hollywood way). The film is full of beautiful people and good laughs and quite a bit of emotion.

Yet, I didn’t quite manage to get to that escapism. Some aspects of the plot and some of the speeches brought me crashing back right into the here and now. Or over there and now. I don’t know if current geo-political events are making me more sensitive or whether now is no time for light-hearted japes in the face of unrelenting animosity.

It was about aspects of the plot. One party was bent on the total annihilation of apparent enemies for reasons not fully explored, but was clearly motivation enough. There was the usual political and military response which was a bit Air Force One (see what I did there), in terms of noble leaders meeting unremitting vengeance.

In the middle of this, a disparate bunch of ne’er-do-well professional thieves, assassins and bounty hunters get good lines, humour and action. They crew up much like in Star Wars and Firefly and are made a group through their shared survival and awareness of each other’s various experiences of horribleness – including murder, kidnapping and genetic experimentation. Happy times.

Genetically modified and tortured steam punk cats for a possible spin off.  You know it.

Genetically modified and tortured steam punk cats for a possible time travelling spin-off.
You know it.

My thoughts are not about this bunch of reluctant but thrilling heroic types. I got their backs. They’re cool. I mean really cool.

No, my thoughts are about the plot. I was somehow stuck, in this middle of this alien feel good high stakes action drama comedy, thinking about how violence and revenge begets violence and revenge. Ronan the Trouble Maker (Accuser but whatevs) wants to destroy the galaxy in a fundamentalist push that even has his Emperor Palpatine dad figure Thanos thinking it’s a bridge too far.

Obviously, motivation needs to be big for the reluctant heroes to bother to do their thing, but for me, such massive destruction seems too indiscriminate for Ronan: Who do we hate? Everybody. What we gonna do? Kill Everyone.

I found my self thinking about what drives someone to contemplate genocide. Why kill everyone if one specific group has somehow perhaps harmed or wronged you? Why use an ultimate weapon when you can wield power merely with the threat of it?

During this, of course, I was cheering for the Heroes to save the day. They had to for the galaxy to continue to exist. But I found I wanted to understand Ronan et al more.

And, for all the aliens and genetically modified raccoons, it felt really personal. It was all too human, basically, what with singularly driven Kree fanatics verses casual Xandar citizens, military and political leadership who are mostly uncomprehending of the danger they’re in. This, in a universe where the mostly American-accented troops and merchant-spaceship galactic criminals band together to defend justice and their alien way of life, while the Bad Guys are mocked and ultimately defeated, without us really understanding their motivations.

If all this rings a bell in the here and now, then you’re not alone.

I guess I don’t want good versus bad so very much because real life is rarely that way. Just as Peter Quill’s existence is recognition that to do good you don’t need to be All Good All the Time, so too, you don’t need to be All Bad, All the Time to do bad.

Maybe I’m asking too much of a film based on a comic strip, where visually and viscerally characters are demarcated as one thing or the other. But this is where film can express so much more. I think this is why there are so many fans of Loki in the Avengers etc. Tragic hero of his own story, Loki, (in his mind) is forced into playing the villain to win his father’s affection or respect or power, but it is never enough. We don’t want Loki to win, but man, the feels.

So much thinking. This is exactly what I didn’t need from Guardians of the Galaxy. On all sides throughout history there are those who do and witness terrible things for both noble and really messed up motivations. Do we side with the Spartans or the Persians? The Crusaders or the Saracens, Gauls or Romans? Add any current day conflict here:

<insert imagined conflict>

What I’m fumbling towards is the need for our storytelling in whatever form, be it comic or film or novel, to demonstrate that it is ok for characters to be nuanced and for the world they live in to be complicated. Ronan would have been all the more menacing and mixed up for demonstrating a closer devotion to his daughter(s), for instance. If there was any sympathy that could have been elicited from the audience, it would’ve heightened the sense of peril.

In the end, Ronan could’ve been Sauron for all we knew, the god of grasping and despicable malice at large in the world…destroyed by a precious small glowy thing that difficult to get rid of. Yet Ronan is a person. As an individual I need him to be less Sauron-like and more complicated – like a physically stronger, more fanatical and corrupted Saruman.

So um yeah, Guardians feels like Fellowship of the Orb a bit, but with comedy, and space ships. Not the conclusion I thought I would reach with this.

But there you go.

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Anti-Advice for Writers

If you are writing or thinking about writing, or reading about thinking about starting to write you will, with little trouble, come across a terrifyingly huge amount of advice. It comes in the form of: books, blogs, well-meaning friends, videos, hash-tagged conversations, mime performances, professional organisations and their magazines, software, spam invitations to pay for your own publishing, classes and lessons and courses, videos, strangers who offer up uninvited nuggets of truthiness the moment you mention the w word, author lectures, and worried phone conversations with relatives.

All of them have something to tell you about writing: how to do it right, what to write about, how quill is better than typewriters, while laptops are impossible cos Internet, what won’t sell, why they gave up or never started, and how everything ever has already been written.

So much to say about writing.

Don’t try to take too much of it in.

At least not all at once, you’ll implode and the universe will collapse into some kind of singularity. So I’ve heard. Maybe.

Too much  advice and no writing makes Bec a cranky writer.

Too much advice and no writing makes Bec a cranky writer.

So here’s my anti-advice.

-  You don’t have to tell anyone you are writing.

- You don’t need to tell anyone whether you have been published or not.

- You’re not obligated to tell your story to anyone before or while you write the story. Or even after. Some writers believe it takes power from your writing, while others believe people will steal your idea.

- If you don’t want to talk about writing, smile politely and change the topic. Pointing at something and running away might work.

- You don’t need to take or accept anyone else’s advice, unless you want to, or for reasons, must. (Like contractual reasons – just accept editors know how to use apostrophes).

- Don’t let the nay sayers get you down.  You don’t need to own the failure or shortfalls of others. You make (and proudly display) your own mistakes:) Or not.

- You make and you own your successes. Don’t let others take them from you either. Stealing  your joy should be a crime.

- Write what you want to write. Limiting your writing to ‘what you know’ is bs. Cos how many crime novels are written by criminals – not all of them? How many hours did Barbara Cartland put into working out what would work, ahem, romantically?  Did George Lucas or Steven Moffat go into space? Did JRR Tolkien meet Elves and Dragons? Did George RR Martin go back in time to pick up tips on European politics, add some Dire Wolves and that double R thing in a canny marketing move? No. What they did was (and what all authors continue to do is) invent places and times and settings while studying a lot of historical, literary and technical texts to lend consistency to their worlds (give or take a Jar Jar Binks or two).

- It’s ok to write. Really. Go on. I’ve said this before but what you bring is not your idea (because unique ideas are few and far between in this old world). No. What you bring is you. You and your writing voice are unique. Bring. Them.

- It’s ok to fail.

- It’s ok to fail and still not tell anyone.

- It’s ok to be wildly successful and still not discuss it.

- It’s ok to be semi-successful and published but still have a day job because writing doesn’t pay like it once did. And it’s still ok to not discuss it at the water cooler if you don’t want to.

- It’s ok to completely do the opposite of everything I’ve ever done, because I’m not exactly swimming in publishing contracts, while promoting myself as brand….like others seem to have mastered since forever…yet.



- Basically, it’s ok.


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Messages in the music

Being a person in the world, I have noticed, of late, that it isn’t going well. The world, that is. Drought, ice melting, reefs dying, war, famine, poverty, burning this, flooding that, rampant terrible disease things, pillaging hordes of other things, like politicians and media barons, kids being shelled, torture, censorship, kidnapping, rape memes, repression, murder, reporters being jailed for describing what’s happening. Elephants crying, a baby wailing. Stray dog howling. The screech of brakes and lamp lights blinking – seems my train of thought morphed into:


Seems there’s a song for every feeling.

Anyway, it’s a wonder the earth is still here at all.

Some days. It. Is. All. Too. Much.

So how or why do I continue to do what I do? Isn’t pointless in the face of so much horror? Doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, this tinkering with words to tell stories and this blog?

Well yes. But. That’s what humans do. In the face of horror they keep at whatever gives life meaning. Thus, I have certain skills. They won’t cure cancer or calculate Pi. But, if I can keep doing what I’m reasonably good at, perhaps this doing demonstrates to someone, anyone, that people can do what they are good at, and find some satisfaction in it. This is important, because to some, even this seems impossible and there are precious few people in the world with the opportunity to find what they are good at, and attempt to practice it.

Also, while many people think the world is full of suffering and woe and make it woeful and full of suffering for everyone else, I don’t want to be that kind of person.

But no matter. This is what I have and I’ll keep sponsoring Freedom the former bile farm Moon Bear here, arguing with and un-friending small-minded ignorant racists on social media there.

It’s an up hill battle some days.

But I will keep writing. Because writing is subversive. And if I’m anything I’m a contrarian: I couldn’t read, now I’m a writer. It demonstrates in the best way I know how that I am working on who I want to be and I am free to do so. And if I can maybe we all can.

So stuff Big Brother. I’m lucky. I can protest, argue with racists and sexists, sign petitions, vote and express opinions. If only we could all, (to misquote MC Hammer) much like the Addams family, write what we wanna write, do what we wanna do, say what we wanna say, live how we wanna live, play how we wanna play and most of all….dance how we wanna dance.

We can, too, look forward to the good things. Like I don’t know, the next Australian federal election or new episodes of Doctor Who.

But importantly, as the Mod Father says in another song, we should stop apologising for the things we’ve never done, cause time is short and life is cruel. But it’s up to us to change

And we can.


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